The Body is What
by Inglis Fleming
You are a true Christian. Well I write now for such, and for such only. Do you ask, What do you mean by a true Christian? I mean this. A true Christian is one who has been “born of God.” He has a new life and nature altogether. He has received the Lord Jesus into his heart. He has been sealed by the Holy Spirit. He is a child of God. His sins have all been blotted out by the precious blood of Christ. He is “in Christ.” and for him “there is no condemnation” now, but a certainty of everlasting joy.
Now then if you are a true Christian, “your body is”. . . What? Let us turn to the Word of God to see!
First of all then, in 1 Corinthians 6:13 we read, “The body is . . . FOR THE LORD.”
Henceforth it is to be for His service. It is His. He has bought you altogether. His precious blood was the purchase price. You “are not your own.” The blood that has cleansed you from your sins claims you for His service. You are called by His love for you, to “live unto Him who died for you and rose again.” The time past of your life is surely sufficient for you to have done your own will and lived for your own interests. Before your conversion you sought your own pleasure. You gratified your own tastes and sought to accomplish your own aims and purposes. You lived for yourself. You were your own object. Your whole course was centred in “I.” You may have been religious in measure. But even such “religion” had your own advantage in view, as you sought to make out a righteousness of your own.
This aspect of life was well expressed by one who, after becoming a true Christian, penned these words as to his former history:—
“I lived for myself,
I thought for myself,
And for none else beside:
Just as if Jesus had never lived
As if Jesus had never died.”
That life of selfishness was condemned at the cross of Christ. There “our old man” (all that we were as in our sinful state before God) was “crucified with Christ.” It was judged and set aside altogether. Now, as a Christian, you live before God “in Christ” risen. His life is yours. “The body is . . . FOR THE LORD” in order that His life may be expressed in you. It is “not for fornication.” It is not for the furtherance of your “own desires whether gross or innocent” but it is FOR Him. And, on His part, He is “FOR THE BODY.” He cares for that which is His and in which He is to be manifested. Thus we may turn to Him in regard to all that affects our bodies, assured that He will bear us for our good physically and for His own glory through us. Then, on our side, we are to be careful of our bodies, seeing that they are the Lord’s. Everything that will conduce to their well-being is to be attended to by us.
The words of the apostle Paul, as to his own course, may help us here. In 2 Corinthians 4:10, we may read that which has been called “Paul’s diary.”
“Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in the body.”
Every day he applied to himself that for which the Lord Jesus had died. He always “refused” the “flesh,” the self-life. He would not allow it to act. He kept it in check constantly. And this was in order that “the life of Jesus” might shine out even in him.
And, as another has put it, the Lord said, “Paul, I will help you in this;” and so we read further,
“We which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.”
“For Jesus’ sake.” “The life of Jesus.” “Our mortal flesh.” Remarkable the association. Paul was allowed to know trials and troubles, difficulties and distresses (see verses 3, 9) in his pathway of service. But all that he endured was “For Jesus’ sake,” so that nothing of Paul being allowed, “the life of Jesus” might be evidenced in him—yes evidenced in his “mortal flesh,” in his body of weakness which was still subject to death. What honour was his! What honour will be ours if we follow him in his course.
Death worked in him and life toward others. He was made thus a blessing to those to whom he ministered day by day. In his body Christ was manifested, as He should be and will be in our bodies as we walk in the power of the Holy Ghost.
“The body is” . . . What? Referring further to the apostle’s words we learn that our body is that in which “Christ may be magnified.” Noble were his words, “According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:20-21).
“Christ . . . magnified.” Christ made much of. Personally He cannot be made more than He is. But in us there may be this increase. In us, by the supply of the Spirit of Christ, more of Himself may be seen. This was the apostle’s earnest expectation and his hope. And this “as always” tells again of his life’s ambition and of his consequent purpose and practice.
Whether by his life or by his death it mattered not to him. Whether it might be by ministry or by martyrdom, that was insignificant, if only Christ might be magnified.
So it was with the early Moravian missionaries. They had a medal engraved in the centre of which was the figure of an ox. On one side was a plough. On the other side was an altar. Over these emblems was the inscription, “Ready for either.” The servant of God going forth was to be prepared for all eventualities. If to live was his lot he was to be like the ox at the plough, strong to labour. If to die as a martyr on the altar of sacrifice was to be his portion, he must be willing for that.
Let us measure ourselves by this? Is our “earnest expectation and our hope” like the apostles? Are we like these Moravian brethren?
As we look into what remains of our life on earth can we exclaim, “To me to live is Christ”?
Before our conversion we might have said, “To me to live is self and to die is judgment.” Happy are we, who now believe on the Son of God, in knowing that to die is gain for we shall be with Christ. But let us ask ourselves our aim in life. What are we seeking day by day? The apostle mourns over some believers of his days saying, “All seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s.” These were living lost lives, lives which will not count in the coming day of manifestation when the Lord will reward His own according as their work shall be.
“The body is”. . . What? These Corinthian believers had forgotten the importance if their body. “What?” exclaims the apostle, “Know ye not that your body is the TEMPLE OF THE HOLY GHOST which is in you, which ye have of God and ye are not your own, for ye are bought with a price . . .?” (1 Cor. 6).
Do you Christian readers know that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost? Have you been taught this? It is possible that the importance of your physical frame has never been brought before you. The writer was a believer for years before he knew the wonderful fact. He knew that the Lord Jesus died to save his soul—but as to his body being indwelt by the Holy Spirit—this was utterly foreign to his thoughts. He had never heard of such a matter. And this is the case with many Christians today. It is a blessed but a serious thought. This mortal body is the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit of God. This being so I must see to it that I grieve Him not (see Ephesians 4:30). So therefore:
(1) Let me be careful, what I put into my body, lest it should be harmed in any way by any food or drink.
(2) Let me be careful, what I put on to my body, and watch that my clothing is modest and clean and neat.
(3) Let me be careful, where I put my body, and refuse to go where I should not take so glorious and gracious a Guest.
4) Let me be careful how I use my body, that it may be “preserved blameless” in every respect as befits a Holy Temple.
“The body is” . . . What? It is a vessel for the glory of God. “Glorify God in your body”, is the apostolic exhortation. “Walk worthily of Him.” We are left here that He may be honoured in the world where His Son has been refused and crucified.
In view of this high privilege—a privilege no angel is possessed of—should we not cry, “Lord, take away the dross from the silver, and there shall come forth a vessel for the finer”? (Prov. 25:4). Every redeemed one is as “silver.” But there is dross with each one which needs to be removed.
It is for the purpose of this removal that the Christian is put into the crucible of trial. The Lord Himself sits, “as the Refiner and Purifier of silver.” And in grace He takes away that which hinders our suitability for the service of God.
The removal of the dross may be a painful process. “No chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous but rather grievous, nevertheless afterward it yieldeth” blessing to us, and we become partakers of God’s holiness and so are fitted for His use.
“The body is” . . . What? It is mortal, as we have seen. This may remind us that our time for service is short. If our Lord still tarry we have but a limited period in which to glorify God here.
Of David it is said, “For David after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption” (Acts 13:36).
“To serve our own generation by the will of God.” That is for His pleasure, in the place He has allotted to us, this is our mission too. Each one of us has his own appointed sphere. No one can do another’s work. Thus we should seek to know what our particular ministry is and then diligently fulfil it. Our life is brief indeed but it is important and influential. Let us then “Work . . . while it is day; for the night cometh when no man can work” (John 9:4).
“The body is”. . . What? Soon it is to be glorified. Wonderful the prospect!
“We look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall change our vile body (our body of humiliation) and fashion it like unto His glorious body (body of glory) according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself” (Phil. 3:21).
Our Lord is coming again. He has pledged Himself to do so. His own promise stands sure. “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:3).
At His coming His first action will be upon the bodies of His own. To be with Him in His glory they must be like Him. So those who have been put to sleep by Him, those who have died “in Christ,” will be raised first, in bodies of glory. Then those who are alive until His coming will be changed into His image Then “together” all will be caught up to be with Him for ever.
“Behold I show you a mystery: We shall not all sleep; but we shall all be changed. In a moment in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible and we shall be changed” (1 Cor. 15:51-52).
From the Scriptures referred to, we have seen something of the great importance of our bodies. May it be ours now to give more diligence to be found of our Lord at His coming “without spot,” may our “whole spirit and soul and body” being preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thess. 5:23).
Seeing all that has come before us of favour, and privilege from God. what response is due from us) The Apostle makes this clear for us, in Romans 12:1-2, “I beseech you ... brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye pre sent your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God which is your reasonable service.”
Our only spiritually reasonable, intelligent service is to place our bodies at God’s disposal for the help and blessing of others. Have we done this? If not shall we not do it now?
Your body is His by purchase.
Your body is His by redemption..
Your body should be His by your glad and willing presentation to Himself.